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Kildare chief insists second bailout gives county 'clean slate' despite €700,000 debt

KILDARE chairman John McMahon has confirmed that the county is getting another major advance of close to €400,000 from the GAA to help them clear their massive debts, and will be paying it back for several years to come.

As revealed by the Irish Independent this week, this is the second such advance that Kildare have received from Croke Park and Leinster Council in the past year.

This second tranche of funding brings to close to €700,000 the total bailout that the Lilywhites have had to seek to clear their heavy debts.

McMahon said Kildare's second bailout is coming in the same form as the €300,000 they drew down last April: an advance on their predicted incomes (grants, gates, development funding) from Croke Park and Leinster Council for 2013 and beyond.

In an interview with local radio station, Kfm, McMahon confirmed the final figure will be close to €700,000 and will allow Kildare to operate with "a clean slate" for 2013. He was adamant that the board would still be able to meet their annual running costs, despite the fact that the bulk of their grants and league and championship income will now be going to service their debt.

But he also indicated that they have committed to additional fundraising to help pay off what essentially amounts to a huge loan from the central and provincial authorities.

"The proposal is that the repayments will be over a number of years, but the designation of that has yet to be finalised," said McMahon.

"The budgets we've presented are based on realistic figures on our current situation and what we can raise in 2013 and beyond. There's a certain amount of ambition, yes -- but ambition based on practicality."

He said Kildare had a meeting as late as last week to decide five or six significant fundraising initiatives and will be working closely with supporters body Club Kildare.

McMahon also confirmed that the board's finances will continue to be supervised very closely by Croke Park and Leinster Council until their problems have eased.

Former Munster Council secretary Simon Moroney was brought in to help Kildare with their finances when they received their first advance in April.

"There will be close involvement with Croke Park," McMahon said. "It's like any institution. They will be advancing us money, so we will have to comply and demonstrate that we are handling our situation in an expeditious fashion and eventually then get back into total control."

The board have consistently countered perceptions that high spending on their senior team was part of the problem, stressing that this year's expenditure on Kieran McGeeney's squad was €270,000 -- a reported €70,000 less than last year.

The latest problem to hit Kildare is the loss of long-time sponsors Tegral, but McMahon said he was confident they would be able to quickly replace them.

"There are people and companies out there who have already expressed an interest and we are talking with them," he said.

"We are a high-profile county who have consistently finished in the higher echelons of the championship over the past few years. We've come into Division One now, so the work is being done on the ground and we're an attractive package for any new sponsor."

He admitted that Kildare's financial problems -- which he described as being largely "historical" -- have been "a huge diversion, but it is a fact, it happened in the past and we have to learn from the past, not live in it.

"We needed to get this off our shoulders, we were determined never ever to let this debacle fall around Kildare again and now we want to focus on the positives and move on."

Kildare are not the only county to rack up huge debts in recent seasons.

Waterford reportedly have debts of about €600,000, but their chairman indicated this week that they are discussing a long-term loan with a bank to solve their problem.

Irish Independent